A spokesperson for Sen. Rob Portman’s (R-OH) reelection campaign this weekend justified Portman’s obstruction of President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland by saying that Ohio’s voters don’t care about the issue.
Rob Portman is in a tight spot regarding the nomination of Garland, whom many consider to be a moderate. He has gone all in with Republican leaders in Washington who want to block his confirmation, but at home in Ohio, Portman tries to portray himself as more reasonable, saying he will meet with Garland.
The Cincinnati Enquirer picked up on this dilemma, reporting that the Supreme Court vacancy is putting Portman in a “hot seat.” But Portman’s spokesperson told the paper that it doesn’t matter anyway because Ohioans aren’t interested:
“Rob is focused on the issues that Ohio families care about — jobs and the economy, terrorism, and the heroin epidemic that is gripping our state,” said Kevin Smith, Portman’s communications director. “He has a record of delivering for Ohio families on these issues and he will continue to fight for them.”
Aside from the fact that Portman himself once said that confirming judges was a key Senate responsibility, Ohio voters do care about the Supreme Court vacancy, so much so that a majority in the state say they are less likely to vote for Portman if he continues obstructing.
What’s more, recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings on redistricting and voting rights have had a huge impact on Ohio. The high court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act last year protected health insurance subsidies for more than 160,000 Ohioans. And the plaintiff in the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide, Jim Obergefell, is from Portman’s hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio.